tv Larry King Live CNN November 27, 2010 5:00am-6:00am EST
a lot of information was discussed this hour. we put it in one place to make it as easy as possible to get involved. go to cnn.com/impact, find links to learn more about parkinson's, sign up for latest clinical trials or make a donation. thanks for joining me tonight. i'm dr. sanjay gupta. more news on cnn starts right now. i'm anderson cooper and welcome to special report on amazing animals. have you ever wondered what animals think or whether they have the capacity for abstract thought or whether they can learn language to communicate, whether they have a sense of self? well, in the next hour, you will hear the latest research and a lot of it is pretty remarkable. we are at the wildlife bronx zoo exhibit. this is the spiny forest lemur exhibit and in the hour ahead you will meet lemurs and a number of scientists studying proving that some animals are capable of things that we
thought were uniquely human. we begin with two apes in iowa where some believe they have the ability to communicate in english language. this is konzi and his half sister. they're bonobos, cousins to the chimpanzee and an endangered species. they are also considered superstars in the world of science. >> are you happy, konzi? >> because they understand spoken english, and they can communicate with humans by pointing and gesturing. >> can you show me the pinecone? the pinecone? that's right. >> they live in a research center called the great ape trust in de mind, iowa. they're sensitive animals and because they are considered so unique, the scientists who study them are careful not to upset them. when we said we wanted to come for a visit, we were told that they have to invite us.
hi, konzi. hi, i'm anderson and i work in television, and i make tapes. and to get an invitation, we should make a video introducing us to them. i would love to come to iowa and meet you and tell your story so people all around the world know who you are. i'd love to come and bring you surprises. is there anything you would like us to bring you? >> do you want surprises or anything that you want me to bring? something that you want me to bring right now? oh, you want him to come right now? you are looking at the door for him. this doctor has spent her life studying them in the wild. >> i studied them in the wild. and when i went out to study them, it was like us in another form and us in a different human overlay of culture, and how do we understand ourselves if we clear the forest and we don't understand them.
>> her quest to understand started in 1908 with the scientific study on whether or not the species could acquire language. along with her husband, she developed a lexigram board which is really a graph with a dozen photos and words. she taught a female using it. >> i would hold it up and ask her to hit a lexigram thousands and thousands of times for two years every single day trying to keach muqtada. >> that is kanzi's mother? >> yes. matada may not know what she was doing, but it turns out that her adopted son did, and he is the one learning english. >> all of that time i was speaking language, matada was not learning it, konzi was learning it and then he paired the lexigrams with it. first he learned the spoken language. >> did that surprise you? >> when it first happened, it surprised me completely.
>> how did konzi learn? >> konzi learned because we were just with her all the time as he was growing up and we were talking. we went for walks in the woods. we fed him food and she fed him food and we loved him. we stayed with him almost constantly just helping her. >> part of the shock in discovering his kill was that he was so young. he was only nine months old when his mother started the language study. scientists had always thought language skills could own be developed in older animals. >> show me water. water. good. >> the discovery prompted the doctor to shift her study to how early an constant exposure impacts language development. >> you need bananas and raisins. >> to do that she created an environment where the apes and humans and apes are always socializing with each other. >> the kind of research we are
doing where it is really a bi-species culture and we live with them and talk with them and interact with them in close ways, as you have seen. and we take their communications at face value. this is the first time this kind of thing has been done. so we need to see where it can go. >> that's right. thank you. >> seeing where it can go is also the advice we were given before arriving at the great ape trust. but i never seen them up close. after watching my video, we were told konzi and pan benisha wanted us to come and wanted me to bring them some surprises. >> do you want to tell him on your keyboard what to bring? what? green beans and pine needles. >> including hard boiled eggs and pine needles and a ball, all of which the great ape trust said they would provide and i had to just show up.
it sounded easy. wow. i had no idea what else the apes wanted me to do. this is the weirdest thing i i have ever -- >> i never could have predicted what would have happened when anderson cooper came. i could never have done that. >> up next we'll show you how strange a turn my trip to the bonobos took and show you insights into how dogs understand the world and how your furry best friend may be calling the shots more than you realize and look at the inner life of dolphins. ring ring ring ring progresso. hi. we love your weight watchers endorsed soups but my husband looks the way he did 20 years ago. well that's great. you haven't seen him... my other can is ringing. progresso. hey can you tell my wife to relax and enjoy the view? (announcer) progresso. you gotta taste this soup. ♪ i'm gonna get my hair cut ♪ even if i have to cut it myself ♪ ♪ i'm gonna get my hair cut ♪ even if i have to cut it myself ♪
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look for a valuable coupon in this sunday's paper. i want to tell you about the remarkable research done with dolphins right now. scientists believe that dolphins are probably the most intelligent species after humans. their brains are not only big, they're extraordinarily complex. researchers say that all that sets the dolphins apart from other animals is the strong sense of self. randi kaye went to investigate.
>> reporter: spend a day with a dolphin and you're quickly reminded of why they always capture our imaginations. they are playful, sociable and just incredibly fun to be around. but scientists say there's a lot more to these animals and they're just beginning to understand the intricate thinking of these so-called big brained mammals. here you go, noni. good girl. we came here to the baltimore aquarium to see how intelligent dolphins are. you see them playing with the trainers all of the time, but scientists who study them say there's a lot more happening there than just play, that their intelligence actually rivals ours. here you go. to see up close what has scientists so excited, we climbed down into a tiny underwater lab with a window into the aquarium where scientist diana reeves puts a
two-way mirror up against the glass. the dolphins cannot see us, but she can see how the dolphins react to the mirror. we used to think that we were the only species on the planet who can think, but now we know we're amongst many thinking species so the questions are no longer can they think but how do they think? so with this capacity of giving them mirrors, it looks like they are doing things similar to us. reese has been studying dolphins' behavior for 25 years. most animals don't even pay attention to mirrors, most dogs won't even look in a mirror. cats don't pay much attention. or animals do pay attention but they think it's another of their own kind. >> but dolphins do figure it out. >> not only do they figure out it's them but show interest to look at themselves so one thing to understand it's themselves but another thing to want to look at themself or what does it
look like if we turn upside down and blow a bubble. >> we sat in awe as this group of dolphins explored themselves, and unable to ignore the mirror. several did hang upside down. >> he's upside down. he keeps doing -- he's being very innovative. watch this. big show. >> other dolphins open up their mouths and stuck their tongue out. they put their eye on the mirror to get an even closer look. not convinced that a dolphin can recognize itself in the mirror. take a look at this video of an earlier experiment from 2001. scientists marked this dolphin on the side with a black pen, but did not mark the other. when released, the dolphin with the mark swims directly to the mirror, and turns the mark towards the mirror, like he is trying to take a look at what has been done to him. the unmarked dolphin doesn't show the same behavior.
dolphins aren't the only big-brain mammals who recognize themselves. elephants do, too. watch what happens when reiss tested them at the bronx zoo. this one with the white x marked on his face turns toward the mirror over and over to take a look. back at the baltimore aquarium, reiss is now focusing her research on younger dolphins. >> bo is 5. >> just like human children, young dolphins make lots of movement and watch their reflection. they quickly learn they are watching themselves. what are you trying to figure out with the younger dolphins? >> so we're trying to figure out at what age, at what developmental age do they start figuring out it is them in the mirror and when are they showing interest in the mirror? >> foster who is 3 started to recognize himself in the mirror about the same time toddlers do, when he was about a year and a half. reese says some dolphins pick up on it at 6 months, much earlier than children.
>> with a mirror providing a window into the dolphin's mind, reiss believes that she is discovering their super high levels of intelligence is similar to our own, and if that is true, what does that tell us is the question. >> in the end, what it tells us that we need to look at the animals in a new light and respect and provide much more protection in terms of conversation efforts and welfare efforts for these animals and also appreciate that we're not at the top anymore. we're not alone. we're surrounded by other intelligences. >> oh, wow. so smooth. beautiful. beautiful. remember the old saying that it always seems like dolphins are smiling at you?
well, maybe they are. randi kaye, cnn, baltimore. coming up, how scientists figured out that lemurs don't like to gamble. plus, back to the great ape trust in iowa, i finally meet konzi and pan benisha face to face. they ask to me bring surprises but i'm the one that gets the biggest and strangest surprise of all. >> who should be the bunny? bunny is you. >> i'm the bunny? >> you are the bunny. >> how am i the bunny? wow. ero™. we removed the alcohol and made it less intense. ♪ it still kills bad breath germs for a whole-mouth clean. and it's never felt so good. new less intense listerine® zero™. ♪ ♪
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didn't realize that our trip would make a strange turn very quickly. >> would you like to bargain for something really -- you would? you'd like to bargain for something really good to eat? okay. >> language is thought to be one of the major skills differentiating humans from all other species. >> can you give some to the bunny? can you give some pine needles to the bunny? >> a scientist here 's great ape trust believes it's not just raw brain power that accounts for language skill. human culture and child-rearing also play critical roles. to prove it, she's created a culture that's both human and bonobo spending nearly 24 hours a day 7 days a week interacting with the apes. >> it is truly a humbling experience because i have throughout my life been like a skeptic. i've been a skeptic of other people's work with apes.
and when i got into it as a graduate student, i really thought apes weren't doing what was claimed that they were doing. so the first 15 years were spent looking at training. but once i started with konzi and i abandoned the training and i let language be what language really is, that is when the amazing things started to happen, and for many years, even now, i have underestimated them. what did you want? >> sweet potato. >> videos like this one push savage-rumbaugh's work and konzi into the spotlight. there have been several books and konzi is called the ape language superstar. >> put your ball in the oil. very nice. thank you. >> as konzi's language grew, so did the lexicon board. it represents nearly 400 words. objects like jello and ball, verbs from want and drink, and the abstract like good and bad,
tomorrow and yesterday. to prove konzi wasn't an anomaly, savage-rumbaugh expanded the program. >> point to the sugar cane. that's right. first with konzi's younger half sister. >> actually, in most of the tests we've done, she is somewhat better than konzi. please come up here and help konzi. >> the own will i female in the group she's easy to pick out due to the external swelling that signals she's ready to mate. then there's pan benisha's 12-year-old son then there's her son, and the latest addition 4-month-old tameko. i'm told i need to visit this ape first. he's apparently sensitive about konzi and pan benisha getting out the attention. the researchers say he understands language but doesn't participate in testing with the cameras. i'm told he wants to play a game of chase with me. >> are you ready to chase? did you see that? >> yeah.
>> okay. so stay back, but try to do what you see him do to show him you're sensitive to that first of all. and the better you can do it, the more he likes it. uh-oh. >> you're doing really good. >> after an exhausting game of chase -- >> he can go all day. >> okay. he's very energetic. dr. savage rumbaugh says he wants to share some milk. >> very good. thank you. >> can he touch your hand now? >> when it's time to meet konzi, and pan benisha, we're separated by glass for my own safety. bonobos are amazingly strong. at least five times more powerful than the average adult male. >> he said ball. did you see him say ball, anderson? you can ask him if you didn't see it, you can ask him to say
it again. >> which ball? >> show him again. >> which ball? that one? ball? >> that means chase and that means go. >> should i go look? >> ask konzi. >> konzi, should i go look? >> immediately konzi gets down to business. i'm told he wants the surprises he asked for when he saw my video greeting, a ball and pine needles, among other things. >> are you ready? are you ready? okay. >> once konzi is content with his ball pan benisha points to pine needles on her lexicon board and then things get, well, weird. >> pan benisha, who is going to get the surprises? the bunny. >> the bunny? >> the bunny is going to get the surprises. did you know that, anderson? what. the bunny is going to get the surprises. >> who is the bunny? >> who's the bunny?
who should be the bunny? bunny? is you. >> i'm the bunny? >> you are the bunny. >> how am i the bunny? wow. >> before i know it, i'm presented with a costume. you want me to dress up like the bunny? is that okay? and i'm escorted off to go put it on. do you guys do anything that chimps tell you? >> more or less. >> sorry. >> this is the weirdest thing i've ever -- i wasn't sure if i should do this, but i remembered the advice we were given before arriving, be laid back and see where it goes. oh, a bib. the bunny has a bib. so apparently one of the chimps, pan benisha, likes bunnies and asked me to dress as a bunny, which was the big surprise, and get one of the presents that she had requested.
>> the bunny hop. hopping is good. >> i told you things got surreal. i'll show you later in the program what happened next. also ahead, the lemurs we promised you'd meet. researchers at duke university say these ancient primates have a knack for numbers. >> you are just the sweetest little thing. what are you thinking? that's what we're here to find out. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] here's hoping you find something special in your driveway this holiday. ♪ [ santa ] ho ho ho! [ male announcer ] get an exceptional offer on the mercedes-benz you've always wanted at the winter event going on now. but hurry -- the offer ends soon.
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bonobo and dolphins aren't the only mammals that are stretching our understanding of animal intelligence. it's no accident we're at the spiny forest lemur exhibit here at the wildlife conservation society's bronx zoo. lemurs are an ancient relative of monkeys, apes and humans. they don't get nearly as much attention as apes or dolphins but they too are revealing surprising cognitive abilities. randi way went to duke university to see firsthand the research. >> reporter: the first thing you
notice about lemurs are their eyes. they are big and wide and full of curiosity. there you go. you are just the sweetest little thing. what are you thinking? that's what we're here to find out. what's going on in that little brain of yours? that's what scientists at duke university's lemur center are trying to figure out and so far they are pretty impressed. they say lemurs are deep thinkers who understand numbers and sequencing, even abstract thinking. here at duke they have the largest captive collection of lemurs in the world. lemurs have actually received a lot less attention than apes and monkeys when it comes to researching how they think. but the folks here at the duke lemur center are looking into how the lemurs think, because they believe they can offer insight into how our primate ancestors actually thought about 75 million years ago. isn't that right? duke university professor elizabeth brannon heads up the lemur research here.
>> hey, pedro. thanks for helping out today. >> reporter: she says lemurs are so sophisticated when it comes to numbers, they rival monkeys. and like human babies, lemurs understand numbers without actually understanding language. we got to see for ourselves how smart lemurs are. my jaw dropped as i watched these primates from madagascar take tests on a computer. this lemur has learned to recognize which square has more red dots. he uses his nose and if he picks the right one, which he mostly does, a sugar pellet drops down. lemurs love sweets. >> we're asking can the lemur learn an abstract rule about numbers? can the lemur learn that he always has to choose the smaller number or the larger number? and apply this to pictures that he's had no training on. >> reporter: in this next test the lemur has to work from memory. before the computer test, the lemur was shown seven pictures,
but he never saw all of the pictures together. scientists want to know if he can remember which pictures came first in the sequence. when he is shown just two of the pictures on the computer screen in no particular order. can lemurs think abstractly and infer things they hadn't been taught directly? >> we are teaching him that one picture, picture a comes before picture b, and that picture b comes before picture c and we want to know whether he can figure out the relationship between pictures a and c. >> reporter: professor brannon says this lemur successfully memorized the relationship between the pictures. and still remembered it for this test. even though he hadn't seen the pictures in the last two years. >> for a long time, it was thought that lemurs weren't capable of doing a lot of things that other primates were. in the cognitive domain, so in some ways this is surprising how well they are able to do in this task. >> reporter: what else surprised professor brannon? that lemurs like humans, avoid risk. >> we figured out that they
really don't like to gamble. >> reporter: how does she know? because in this test, lemurs are taught that if they choose the photograph of the train, they could get a bunch of sugar pellets as a reward or possibly no pellets at all but if they choose the flag photo, the safe option, they always get one pellet. brannon says lemurs are smart enough to make an association between the photograph and the outcome. there are exceptions. but even when the risky choice will sometimes deliver more treats, most lemurs prefer the safer option. the photo that guarantees them one treat. >> even if we give them six, seven or eight pellets in the jackpot, they still prefer a single pellet, even though the average payoff is much greater in the risky side. >> reporter: why does any of this matter? professor brannon says it can help humans figure out how our
thinking evolved. >> what are the fundamental building blocks upon which complex human cultures and systems of knowledge are built? and by studying these kinds of thought processes in lemurs and monkeys and apes and other animals, we can begin to shed insight into that kind of question. >> reporter: and while professor brannon doesn't expect lemurs to be learning calculus any time soon, she does believe we've only scratched the surface of their amazing intelligence. randi kaye, cnn, durham, north carolina. still ahead, is your dog smarter than you think? does he know how to take advantage of you without you even realizing it what some new research shows. plus back to the great ape trust i learn the real story behind the bunny suit and why pan benisha was so obsessed with it. >> hello. thank you for calling usa pmy name peggy. peggy, yes, i'd like to redeem my reward points for a gift card. tell points please? 250,000.
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ape trust in des moines, iowa, where the research is being done with them. we expected to be surprised, maybe even disappointed. we were prepared for that. we weren't prepared for this. this is like a joke. turns out it's not. this bonobo named pan benisha has requested i dress up as a bunny. after that, i'll hand out the surprises that she and her brother konzi apparently requested. i'd love to come and bring you some surprises. after i recorded this message to tell them i was coming for a visit. >> who should be the bunny? bunny is you. >> i'm the bunny? >> we don't have a lexigram for anderson. so she clarified it with pointing. >> hi, mr. bunny. >> where did the bunny suit come from? well, dr. savage-rumbaugh used to make video skits for pan benisha and konzi as they grew up to help them learn language through lexigrams.
turns out the bunny is pan benisha's favorite character from those video skits. that's why i'm now in this ridiculous costume. so these are the surprises that the chimps have requested. they wanted pine needles and eggs, green beans, string beans and bread and ice. should i bring this whole cart in? this is pretty much the strangest assignment i've's ever had. nobody laugh. hello. presents. i brought you presents. surprises. lots of surprises. among the surprises, lots of food. something konzi is clearly interested in. what are these? >> green beans. did you see that?
>> green beans. what about this one? >> what's that one, konzi? bread. >> that's bread. >> uh-huh. >> and what are -- what are these? >> what are those? konzi? >> pine needles. >> pine needles. that's right. it is interesting because they seem to be saying as they seem to have remembered the video. >> they remembered the video. konzi and pan benisha are communicating very specific information. they can communicate information that's displaced in time and space. they remembered what they asked you to bring and they told you that they remembered that. >> do they express opinions, though? >> they can express very positive and very negative opinions. >> case in point, when i asked if i can take off the bunny suit. can i take off the bunny costume? can i take the bunny off? is that okay? >> it's not okay. pan benisha may just decide to
leave and go somewhere else. she's pretty upset about this. >> konzi doesn't seem too thrilled with the idea either. >> oh, i'm sorry. >> he's not real happy about that, but he's agreeing. >> oh, is that okay? >> it's not really okay. but you can do it. >> clearly some people see this and say you're projecting on them. that you're interpreting things they say and they make a sound and you say, oh, well this means that. is that a fair criticism? >> it's a fair criticism until i can show what every single sound means. but it's not a fair criticism when it comes to the lexigrams. i can say the english word and they can find the photo, even a novel photo they have never seen and they can find the lexigram on their keyboard. so while i haven't yet penetrated their sound system, i have penetrated their cognitive system. konzi, show me the umbrella. that is good. thank you. >> to prove it dr. savage-rumbaugh developed a series of tests like this one.
>> konzi, get the lighter that's in the bedroom. >> how many words do you think they understand from you? >> it seems like maybe a thousand or more. but when you have a word like it or later or is, it's difficult to test that except in a conversation. pan benisha, are you ready? >> they can pair english words with objects. >> show me the rubber bands. that's right. >> they connect words with photos. >> point to the bread. that's right. that's bread. >> a photo to a lexigram. >> perfect. >> and even more impressive is their ability to do the same tests in the opposite order. >> being able to do the inverse is often considered a uniquely human phenomenon because if you -- when animals learn an association, they typically learn it one direction, not bidirectional.
>> even during the tests -- >> can you show me burrito? you're having trouble? you're having trouble finding burrito. pan benisha, come help konzi. >> there seem to be glimpses of human-like personalities. >> please come up here and help konzi and show him burrito. anderson needs to know where burrito is. where's burrito? can you find it? >> it's a secret. >> it's a secret. i see. >> some might say that was a mistake but to dr. savage-rumbaugh pan benisha is playing a joke. teasing both me and konzi. what are you trying to accomplish here? >> we're trying to look at the relationship between language and culture and we're trying to look at what happens in a cross-generational sense. what if you have a whole group of apes that are using language with each other and they do it
across generations? because that's when culture really begins to kick in and that's when language becomes functional. >> and that's where the latest addition to the bonobo family comes into the equation. as i set up on the floor with some stuffed animals and an ipad, dr. savage-rumbaugh wakes up the little guy she thinks could be the one to bridge our two worlds together. >> wow. hey. >> just ahead, you'll meet tico. konzi's young son. he's four months old and the great ape trust hopes he'll be a bridge to the bonobos' future. also ahead, what you may not know about man's best friend. how your dog sees and thinks about the world. do you ever feel like he's the one calling the shots? you may be right. >> wow. >> oh, you are impressive, my little friend. impressive resume. thank you.
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>> i'm still not sure if konzi or pan benisha really wanted me to wear that bunny costume or if they were just having fun with me, if i was just an easy mark. some animals do have the capabilities of manipulating others. turns out dogs do it just about every single day. randi kaye explains how. >> reporter: if you've ever wondered what's really going on behind those puppy dog eyes, this may be the guy to tell you. >> good boy, good boy. >> reporter: professor brian hair, the director of duke university's canine cognition center is one of only a few people in the country who study how dogs think. they put pups through a series of games. similar to those you might play with young children. >> we don't want to look at cute pet tricks. what we want to know is what does the dog understand about its world? >> reporter: for years, researchers didn't even study dogs. they thought they were too domesticated. brian says that's exactly why dogs do need to be studied. for 15 years, he's been
analyzing how dogs think. what surprised him most, he says, is that dogs have figured out how to read human behavior better than any other species. even chimpanzees. >> the way they think about their world is that people are super important, and they can solve almost any problem if they rely on people. >> how do dogs think compared to children? >> probably around 12 months. young children start using -- relying on their adult's gestures and they start making gestures themselves and that's at about the point where it looks like dogs have that -- sort of a similar level of flexibility. >> reporter: watch this, i just met tazi, professor hare's dog a few minutes before this test. when we both point to a cup which may hold a treat, which she trust me, a stranger, or her owner? oh, i'm crushed. >> that's my boy. that's my boy. >> reporter: how could he trust you over me? over and over tazi chooses her
owner's gestures. >> he's grown up with me. we do lots of stuff together. he's never met you before. he says, look, if they're both telling me where to go, i'm going to trust the guy i'm with all the time. >> reporter: dogs are complex social animals who understand they have different relationships with different people. >> they really narrow in and pay attention to you and they want to know what is it about the world that you can help them with. >> reporter: because let's face it, dogs can't solve every problem. >> here the food. >> reporter: when a treat is hidden inside an opaque tube, this gordon setter can't see it but figures out right away she can reach the treat by going around to the side. watch what happens when the tube is switched. and the dog can see the treat. she forgets how easy it was to get just moments before. you might call it a doggy meltdown. >> okay, here you go, you got it. >> reporter: we tried the same test on napoleon, a yorkshire
terrier. okay, let's see how you do. all right, here's your treat. put it in the clear cylinder. okay. >> wow. >> reporter: oh, you are impressive, my little friend. >> a lot of times, the best solution requires a bit of a detour. and so what this says is that poly's able to sort of take a detour, a mental detour and realize, wait a second, even though it looks like that's the shortcut easy answer, it's the wrong thing to do. >> reporter: researchers here are studying dogs to better understand their limitations by identifying why they make mistakes. they believe they can make them better at working with people with disabilities or working with the military. professor hare says domestication has made dogs smarter. so smart, in fact, they're even able to understand the principle of connectivity. >> they know they're connected on a leash and, well, now i have to listen because if i don't do what you say, you can stop me. if i'm not on the leash, i know the command, but i don't have to listen to you now.
>> reporter: how do you know that? just from studying them? >> yeah. if you have -- >> not through these tests. >> it's from owning a dog. >> reporter: just like children, he says, dogs also understand they can misbehave when you turn your back. even after you've told them not to do something. >> and you're really upset because your dog disobeyed you. and you think the dog is not obedient. no, no, your dog was owe bead cent but it realized it could get away with it. >> reporter: like it or not, researchers have figured out dogs use their skills to manipulate the world and those of us in it. so next time you catch yourself thinking you are the master, look your dog straight in the eye. chances are, he is thinking the same thing. randi kaye, cnn, durham, north carolina. >> meeting konzi and pan benisha was certainly an experience i will never forget. bonobos are really remarkable creatures. they're also disappearing fast. great apes are the closest species to us and the scientists of the great ape trust believe
they have much to teach us about how human intelligence evolved. but will those lessons be discovered before time runs out? there's one more bonobo we want you to meet tonight. his name is tiko. >> konzi, take the ball to the bedroom. >> reporter: dr. sue savage-rumbaugh, scientist with the great ape trust in des moines, iowa, says she realizes it may be hard for for people to believe that konzi and pan benisha understand language. >> if i had an experience, i'm a critical scientist too, it would be difficult for me to accept. >> reporter: but since she made what she considered a remarkable discovery nearly 30 years ago, it's been her mission to prove bonobos have more in common with humans than we ever thought possible. want a grape? want a grape? one way she hopes to do that is with the help of this little guy. hi, tico. look at you. little face. his name is tico and he's konzi's 4-month-old son.
his feet are so incredible. it's like they're extra hands. >> yeah, that's the way ape feet are. >> reporter: his mother, a nonlanguage benobo, abandoned him shortly after he was born. tico struggled with health issues but then found his new mom, dr. savage-rumbaugh. >> you're just not sure. it's very surprising. i never planned to be the mom of any benobo. >> reporter: like a typical mom of a newborn dr. savage-rumbaugh spends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with tico. >> are you getting happy and awake now? >> reporter: the unique situation has also opened a door to truly test her theories on how human culture and child rearing impact language. he has his own i-pad? >> this is his favorite one. and this is the one that he first learned to activate. >> reporter: tico is exposed only to bonobos to white house the lexigram charts and exposed to everything human. >> i don't know if it would be possible but i would like tico to grow up around many people, to be able to have five or six
people that do things with him all through the day. that take him out into des moines. >> reporter: so you think by being exposed to people from the earliest age and the culture of humans, that he actually may surpass the others in terms of his ability to communicate? >> yes. the others have been exposed to language but not cub scouts, not going out to a restaurant. >> reporter: she doesn't want to divorce him from the benobo world altogether but by letting him live in ours, she believes tico could expand the benobo's world. >> what impact do you think it will have by raising him basically in both worlds, the human world but also the ape world? >> well, konzi and pan benisha can't really show you their competencies because they can't come out here and sit down and have a talk with you and go for a car ride. their intelligence is trapped in a place that it's not yet able to manifest itself. if tico can become able to interact with human beings and in a human cultural manner,
than he can help them bridge that gap. he's kind of an ambassador you might say. an ambassador for the benobo species. >> reporter: dr. savage-rumbaugh's lifelong work might very well change the way we think about great apes and, in turn, ourselves. it's critical work. and the time to do it might be running out. benobos are found only in the democratic republic of congo where ongoing violence threatens their existence. conservation international says there are only about 5,000 bonobos left in the world. >> if we destroy them thinking they are these animals that can only learn to do very simple dissociative things and don't really have any extraordinary cognition, we will have lost our last link with other human life forms on the planet. we can solve a lot of things, a lot of puzzles about ourselves, by looking at benobos as they exist now. and if we wipe them out, those
answers are lost to us forever. >> reporter: there's obviously so much more for scientists to discover about how animals think and what they're capable. who knows what other remarkable discoveries they'll find. thanks for watching "amazing animals." i'll see you later. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] at&t covers 97% of all americans.
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